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Driving with a suspended license is a misdemeanor crime in CA. The CA Vehicle Code (CVC) breaks down the violation into five variations in Sections 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3, and 14601.5 of the CA traffic code. Each of these sections describes the elements of the crime, the original reason for suspension or revocation, and the penalties for conviction.

CVC 14601, Violation of License Provisions – Reckless Driving

CVC 14601 makes it a misdemeanor crime to drive a vehicle on CA roadways after a driver’s license has been suspended or revoked because of a conviction for reckless driving, CVC 23103, Driving Offenses; when the driver has knowledge of the suspension or revocation; or when the DMV has refused issuance of a license because of negligent operation outlined in CVC 12810.5, Issuance and Renewal of Licenses.

Reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime under CA law if convicted of driving with a “willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property...”

A driver is “presumed” to be a negligent operator if they accumulate four Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points within a 12-month period, six within a 24-month period, or eight points within a 36-month period. Unless the driver is relieved of some or all the points during a DMV Hearing, they are deemed a negligent operator and a subsequent six-month suspension and 12-month probation, which run concurrently, are ordered by the DMV. A request for a DMV Hearing must be requested within ten days of receiving the “Order of Probation/Suspension.” When you receive the order, request a hearing and consult with a traffic ticket attorney.

If convicted of driving while under suspension, a driver faces five days up to six months in the Kern County jail, a base fine of $300 to $1000 (plus state and county surcharges, fees, and assessments, which could make the actual fine five to seven times more), or a combination of both fine and imprisonment for a first offense. However, the prosecution or court could agree to a lesser penalty upon a plea of guilty or no contest. Subsequent convictions within a five-year period will lead to higher fines and longer jail terms.

CVC 14601.1, Violation of License Provisions – Catch-All

This section of the CVC makes it a crime to drive after suspension or revocation for any reason not covered under 14601, 14601.2, or 14601.5. A first conviction can lead to a fine of $300 up to $1000, a jail term up to six months, or a combination of both fine and imprisonment. Likewise, subsequent convictions, within five years, will produce a minimum jail term of five days, a minimum fine of $500 up to $2000.

CVC 14601.2, Violation of License Provisions – DUI

This section of the CVC makes it a crime to drive after suspension or revocation for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), CVC 23152, Offenses Involving Alcohol and Drugs. A first conviction can lead to a fine of $300 up to $1000, a minimum jail term of ten days up to six months, or a combination of both fine and imprisonment. Unless the conviction makes the driver a “habitual offender,” in which case, if probation is ordered, the court can include a minimum 120-day jail term, or a 30-month DUI program and 30 days incarceration as a condition of that probation according to CVC 23548, Court Penalties.

CVC 14601.3, Violation of License Provisions - Habitual Offender

This section of the CVC makes it a crime to drive after suspension or revocation when a conviction would make the driver a habitual offender. A habitual offender for the purposes of this section of the CVC is:

  1. Two convictions or more with two NOTS points within 12 months,
  2. Three convictions or more with one NOTS point within 12 months,
  3. Three or more accidents within 12 months, or
  4. Any combination of accidents or NOTS points that accumulatively totals three or more points within a 12-month period.

The first conviction as a habitual offender carries a 30-day jail term and up to $1000 fine. A second conviction within a seven-year period carries 180 days of imprisonment and a fine of $2000. Said jail term will be served consecutively to any other imprisonment ordered for other fines, meaning the full 180-day term will be served in addition to any other court-ordered term.

CVC 14601.5, Violation of License Provisions - Refusal of a Blood Alcohol or Chemical (BAC) Test

This section of the CVC makes it a crime to drive when a suspension or revocation has been ordered because of a refusal to submit to a BAC test, or a failure to complete the test as requested. According to CVC 13353, Suspension or Revocation by the DMV, a person’s driving privilege may be suspended by the DMV for refusing a BAC for:

  1. A first-refusal, suspensionfor a one-year period,
  2. Asecond refusal, revokingdriving privileges for a two-year period if the refusal is within ten years of the first refusal, and
  3. Revoke an individual’s privilege to drive for three years if the refusal is within ten years and two or more convictions of either: reckless driving, DUI, or DUI with injury within a US state or territory and Canada.

Conditions of CVC 14601

The state or prosecutor must prove the individual drove under license suspension or revocation, with knowledge of their driving privileges suspension. According to CVC 14601, knowledge is “conclusively presumed” when a notice was mailed to the individual and not returned address unknown, or when a court ordered the suspension, revocation, or restriction in the presence of the individual.

Drivers charged with a violation of any section of CVC 14601 face a criminal record, significant fines, and jail time, thus they should consult with a traffic ticket defender immediately.

Mojave Court Traffic Ticket Defenders

Driving with a suspended or revoked license is not a traffic infraction, but a crime that should not be taken lightly. Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, when charged under CVC 14601 before making a statement to any officers of the court or DA. There are a few legal exceptions that could clear you of the charge, such as: you did not know of your license suspension; your driving privileges were restricted and you were driving within the restriction; or the original suspension or revocation was in fact invalid.

After your initial consultation by phone, you may also contact them by email, to provide additional details of your alleged incident, written statements, or a copy of the original traffic citation. Either Mark, Paul, or one of their staff will maintain constant contact with updates and information pertinent to your case.

Visit Bigger & Harman’s Facebook page for updates to the CVC, traffic information, and information about other traffic concerns.

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CVC 12810.5, 13353, 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3, 14601.5, 23103, 23152, & 23548

The 2018 California Superior Court Bail Schedule for Infractions and Misdemeanors.pdf

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